My Garden This Week

Unashamedly pinching an idea from other garden bloggers, I have decided to put up a selection of photos each week of the things I am most pleased with. These would not warrant a post of their own but deserve to be recorded and published for my records and others’ pleasure. So, in no particular order, a quick tour.Kolwitzia amabilis 'Pink Cloud'

The Kolwitzia amabilis ‘Pink Cloud’ commonly called the Beauty Bush is in full flower and laden with pink and white blossom. It only has a faint scent but the bees don’t seem to mind. It is absolutely buzzing.007

I love alliums and this Cristophii really captures the attention. It is not tall, perhaps 60 cm or so but the flower head is a good 25 cm in diameter, a perfect circle of tiny star shaped flowers. How does it do that???017

The height and intense colour of Purple Sensation makes it stand out in the borders and I think it looks good paired with Nectaroscordum siculum, the Sicilian Honey Garlic, which is a major bee attractor and totally hardy. 021

The first red dahlia of the year is Arabian Night and what a stunner! Very early but one of the benefits of starting them off under glass.Gladiolus communis byzantinus

The gorgeous fuchsia pink of Gladiolus communis ssp. byzantinus, apparently a good old English cottage garden plant despite it’s obvious Mediterranean origins. I bought a 9 cm pot at Malvern last year with one bulb in flower and popped it into the front border. This year it came up strongly and with 7 separate flower spikes so it seems to naturalise and multiply well.009

It’s really difficult to get a good photo of this plant and despite several attempts this is the best I can do with my basic Nikon. It is Silene dioica ‘Firefly’, a cultivated double form of the roadside wild flower, Pink Campion. Very floriferous over a long period and fully 120 cm tall but needing support to stop it flopping. I put in some hazel twigs early which are now doing their job beautifully and inconspicuously. Schizanthus 'Angel Wings Mixed' 016

The annual Skizanthus and Sweet Rocket are providing some colour in the front border while the late summer perennials are preparing to put on their show next month. I have kept some wallflowers going as well for the same reason. I hate ripping them out in full flower, it seems such a waste. Anyway, it’s only tradition that they are removed to make way for summer bedding so they can stay a while longer.


Aquilegias have been fantastic this year. They have popped up all over the garden and in every shade of pink, purple and blue. I let them grow wherever they want because their slender stems always seem to fit in and never get in the way of other things. This incredible self-sown hybrid has an amazing number of flowers and is 120 cm tall. If only they had scent they would be the world’s favourite cottage garden plant.Geranium macrorrhizum & Aquilegias

In the back garden, the poor dry soil in front of the beech hedge doesn’t support much life but it has been colonised by Geranium macrorrizhum ‘Bevan’s Variety’, Geranium magnificum and hybrid Aquilegias. I don’t care if the path gets covered for a couple of months, we walk on the grass and in August they get cut to the ground when I trim the hedge and then they grow back in a few weeks and sometimes give me another show of flowers in October. One of the hardest working plants in the garden and the least fussy.Aquilegia 'Nora Barlow'

And just one more Aquilegia, this one is ‘Nora Barlow’ one of the Barlow series of cultivars which is truly perennial and comes back true every year. It lacks the ‘spurs’ of the hybrids and species  but has wonderful double flowers instead.

There is lots more about to happen. The Inula hookeri is in bud for the first time, the lilies are about to open and, best of all, we have started picking Sweet Peas!

Pretty Pathetic Pale Pink Priscilla Peony

041After owning Priscilla the small tree peony for 7 years she has finally decided to flower for the first time. Compared to her neighbour, Cerise Camilla, she is quite pathetic looking. She is so puny her flowers are now dragging on the floor whereas Camilla has been eating her Weetabix and is holding her many heads aloft, big and proud.

Cerise Camilla

Cerise Camilla

Camilla flowers every year and her heads keep getting bigger. This year is a record at 200mm in diameter.

Camilla's biggest head

Camilla’s biggest head

Their friend, the shy Wilma Whitehead, has yet to show her face in public. Perhaps next year!

Favourite Dahlia & Chrysanthemum of 2012

Bishop of LLandaff

Bishop of Llandaff

Probably my favourite Dahlia of the year, Bishop of Llandaff. The sturdy stems holding gorgeous deep red flowers contrast with the dark foliage and, with regular deadheading, went on for months. A really good front of border dahlia and very attractive to bees. Started from seed this year, this was grown from a packet of ‘Redskin Mix’ from Suttons Seeds.

Orange Allouise

Orange Allouise

Undoubtedly my favourite Chrysanthemum of 2012, the gorgeous buttery yellow ‘Orange Allouise’ which captivated me every day in the early morning sun throughout August and early September. Strongly recommended if you like that sort of thing!

Lazy Lizzie!

Photo credit: grow-your-secret-garden

I suppose it was just a flight of fancy, one of those sudden impulses which seem perfectly reasonable at the time but then turn sour. What I had overlooked was that most of the flowers I lusted after in the florists window had actually arrived by plane from the warm shores of Asia, the Southern states of North America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Way back in March while ‘researching’ cut flower seeds I came across an advert on Ebay for one of my favourite cut flowers, a double yellow Lisianthus, the cultivated form of Eustoma. I should have known this wasn’t going to be easy when just 5 seeds cost £1.75 + p&p but there were no others so I bought them. A few days later they arrived in a small packet, or rather the crushed remains did.

Lisianthus aka Eustoma from Lalbagh Garden, Ba...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Undeterred, I contacted the lady seller and  she kindly sent me some more, this time better packaged.They were sown on 27 March in my propagator but after 3 weeks nothing had happened. Then eventually, one tiny little shoot emerged. It just sat there for weeks, doing nothing. Then another shoot emerged and did the same.

The weeks went by and at the end of June I was fed up of looking at the miserable weaklings which by now had been overtaken by everything else and were now just taking up space. I put them in the cold frame and was too busy with other things at this stage to be bothered with them any more so I ignored them completely. Sometimes you just have to put it down to experience and move on. Then, all of a sudden, they decided to grow! Up they went, branching and filling out as they grew until, by the end of August, one had faltered slightly but the other had reached 60 cm tall, strong and healthy and showing 21 tiny flower buds.

Both plants look healthy enough, they have been variously fed with Phostrogen, Tomorite, home-made Comfrey tea and seaweed extract over the last 5 months and, due to it’s warm and humid origins, I have kept them warm and sprayed the buds and glaucous green foliage with tepid rainwater every few days. I have treated the larger one as a house plant for the last 4 weeks to avoid cooler night temperatures so it has had just about everything it could possibly want – and it still won’t flower! At this rate it will be sitting next to a Poinsettia as part of the Christmas decorations! I am now desperate and out of ideas.

I wonder if anyone has had similar difficulties getting them to flower? There must be something I can do to stimulate the buds to open. Perhaps a kind blogger friend in warmer climes could offer me some advice.